Gov's tax plan would dent local coffers

Villages estimate losses in hundreds of thousands

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By BOB UPHUES

A plan to reduce state income tax payments to municipalities floated by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn on March 8 has local leaders crying foul. Already seeing declining revenues, village officials in Brookfield, Riverside and North Riverside say the plan would leave them scrambling to balance their budgets.

"For a small community, where do you bridge the gap?" asked North Riverside Village Administrator Guy Belmonte.

Quinn's announcement is part of his plan to fix the state's budget, which is billions in the red. The governor has also proposed increasing the state's income tax from 3 percent to 4 percent, a 33 percent increase, to help fund education.

The state shares 10 percent of its income tax receipts with municipalities around the Illinois. Quinn wants to cut that amount to 7 percent, a total reduction of $300 million. A town's share of state income tax revenue is based on population. According to the Illinois Municipal League, the cut would represent a per-capita reduction of $23.10 for each town.

If the plan passes the General Assembly, Brookfield would lose $438,000 in revenue, while Riverside would lose $205,000 and North Riverside almost $155,000.

"That's a significant portion," said Brookfield Village Manager Riccardo Ginex. "I don't know where you find it."

The West Central Municipal Conference, which represents 36 suburban communities including all three in the Landmark readership area, has blasted the plan and will be meeting with state legislators next week to lobby against it.

"This policy really can't be sustained, in my opinion," said Richard Pellegrino, executive director of the WCMC.

Riverside Village President Michael Gorman on Monday announced he would be joining the WCMC delegation in Springfield and read a prepared statement at the village's March 15 board meeting stating that the state's income tax contribution to municipalities should not be viewed as simply a handout by the state government.

"It's become integral to villages," Gorman said. "The implications are quite severe. We're asking the governor to look at his house first and not push his cuts down on us."

Pellegrino said that at a Metropolitan Mayors Caucus meeting in December, Quinn pledged not to touch income tax revenues towns receive from the state. Municipal leaders, hearing rumblings that Quinn might seek an income tax hike, had hoped for a larger share of revenues.

"Not only did he walk away from that," Pellegrino said. "He flip-flopped and is now proposing a cut."

Brookfield Village President Michael Garvey said that he would fight the proposal and has sent letters stating as much to the village's representatives in the General Assembly.

"We're going to do everything we could to fight that and make it clear to the governor," Garvey said. "I realize the state has problems too, but to balance the state's budget on our backs ... to pass it on to us, a non-home rule community, we have no way of regaining that $440,000.

"It's a huge hit, and we have to prevent it from happening."

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